Tag Archives: Sasanian law

Sasanian legal terminology in religious context

Capital and Yield: Sasanian Legal Terminology in Religious Context

A lecture by Arash Zeini on the occasion of a meeting of Corpus Avesticum (CoAv), a European network of scholars aiming to create new and accessible editions of the Zoroastrian sacred texts.

Location: Institute of Iranian Studies, Freie Universität Berlin

Time: 16.06.2016, 18:00 – 20:00

Arash Zeini (PhD 2014, SOAS), is a scholar of Ancient Iranian and Zoroastrian philology, history and culture. His main research interests include the study of ancient Iran, Zoroastrianism, particularly the late antique exegesis of the Avesta, and aspects of digital humanities.

Sasanian law in its social context

The 2015 UCLA Biennial Ehsan Yarshater Lecture Series will be delivered by Prof. Maria Macuch:

Sasanian law in its social context

November 9-18, 2015

Legal texts are among the more important sources for the reconstruction of the political and economic institutions, and cultural practices, of late antique Iran, as they considerably further our understanding of past social complexities that are decisively different than our own. This year’s Ehsan Yarshater Biennial Lectures shall provide a sweeping overview and detailed analysis of the principal fields of jurisprudence in Sasanian Iran (third to seventh centuries CE). The five lectures will be investigating the genesis of legal institutions that were instrumental in consolidating the social status of Sasanian élites, notably, the Zoroastrian clergy and the Iranian aristocracy.

As far as we know, the lectures are announced individually. The brochure for Prof. Macuch's lectures is available here: UCLA Yarshater Lectures 2015 Macuch

The Lectures:

    1. Legal Sources and Instruments of Law
      The opening lecture will provide an overview of the available legal material, dispersed in a great variety of sources, and discuss the many pitfalls Iranists encounter in reconstructing the Sasanian legal system.
    2. Kinship Ties and Fictive Alliances
      The second lecture examines questions pertaining to Family Law, in particular, the role of kinship ties that are of paramount importance in Sasanian jurisprudence. The lecture also elaborates on the significance of legal institutions within the context of marriage and succession.
    3. Property and Inheritance
      The third lecture explores the general concept of property, in particular,
      how it gave rise to complex categories crucial to preserving the possessions of affluent élites, while ensuring that proprietary rights were preserved from one generation to the next.
    4. Civil and Criminal Proceedings
      The fourth lecture reviews the judicial system, the foundation upon which the privileges of the élites were built, and the position of religious minorities, the Jews and Christians, within the framework of the judiciary.
    5. Sasanian Law and other Legal Systems
      The final lecture discusses the impact of Iranian law on other important legal systems of the Near East, be it Rabbinic and Nestorian-Christian, or be it Islamic and especially Shi’ite, law.

Ohrmazd’s better judgement

Agostini, Domenico, Eva Kiesele & Shai Secunda. 2014. Ohrmazd’s better judgement (meh-dādestānīh). A Middle Persian legal and theological discourse. Studia Iranica 43(2). 177–202.

This article presents a transcription, translation, commentary, and discussion of a ritual and theological passage taken from the long-neglected Middle Persian work, the Zand ī fragard ī Jud-dēw-dād. The selection is notable for the way it mixes theological and ritual forms of discourse while considering situations in which impure or Evil things, like corpses, wolves, and sins, naturally come into contact with pure and Good elements, like water, fire, and good deeds. Along with explaining this rich text and its various textual parallels, the article considers the potential research value of the Zand ī fragard ī Jud-dēw-dād for Iranists and scholars of late antique religious literature.

Sasanian elites and kinship ties

I found Prof. Macuch’s lecture at the FAMES, entitled Kinship Ties and Fictive Alliances in Sasanian Law, very engaging. The lecture was in two parts. First, she gave an overview of the  Sasanian interpretation of kinship and discussed wealth, property management and inheritance. In the clearly structured introduction she defined the various models of matrimony such as fully qualified marriage, proxy, temporary and fictive marriages and their purposes. In the shorter second part she interpreted the social purpose of these legal institutions. She argued that the complex Sasanian legal system was carried by the Zoroastrian clergy and served to protect the elites’ wealth, preventing it from passing to commoners. In her view, the protection of wealth in this manner resulted in a two class society with a severe imbalance of wealth. She closed her lecture with the suggestion that this imbalance of wealth may have contributed to the collapse of the Sasanian Empire in the wake of the Islamic conquests.

Kinship ties and Sasanian law

Professor Maria Macuch to speak on Kinship Ties and Fictive Alliances in Sasanian Law at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA on Friday 13 December at 5.30pm.